Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - 0800hrs - A much more summery day than yesterday and ideal for a circuit of the local patch. The warm sunshine had brought forth good numbers of grassland butterflies along the old railway track, including scores of Marbled Whites and a fresh hatch of Small Coppers. It was promising to see many more Great Crested and Little Grebe chicks on the water while at least one Cuckoo was still calling around the willow swamp. As the tide pushed in across the bay 128 Curlews were counted going to roost on the storm ridges.
Evidence of post-breeding dispersal has already been witnessed this past week with Green Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Lapwings and Blackwits in the vanguard, plus a steady movement of Sand Martins over the gravel pit lakes. The end of the breeding season continues to gather momentum with Pochard numbers on the rise from the east and the local Mallards and Gadwalls now going into eclipse plumage. Little Egret and Grey Heron juveniles are also more apparent as they disperse from the heronries at Lydd and West Hythe, while this seasons crop of Jackdaws, House Sparrows and Starlings are everywhere. For certain late nesting species though, such as Hobby and Tufted Duck, the breeding season is barely underway.
Sand Martins are few and far between in spring down here, which is in complete contrast to the return passage when hundreds of thousands assemble and pass through the Dungeness peninsula on their southward journey. In my humble opinion this spectacle, that peaks in August and tails off into October, is one of the great visible migration treats in these migrant depleted times and I for one look forward to it each summer.